New laws have now come into force which will further protect United Kingdom coastlines by stopping international ships from discharging potentially harmful species into the sea.
The Merchant Shipping (Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments) Regulations 2022 introduces legislation into UK law controlling the discharge of ships’ ballast water into UK waters. Ballast water can contain aquatic species that are harmful to native UK ones and the legislation will stop ships from potentially releasing them onto our coasts.
By introducing the Ballast Water Management Convention into UK law, the UK coastline will be protected from harmful aquatic species and pathogens (e.g Chinese Mitten Crabs, Zebra Mussels, and Portuguese oysters) that may be present within the ballast water by UK and foreign-flagged ships entering the UK after travelling internationally. This will help to prevent the introduction of species not yet present in the UK and make sure the colonies of those organisms that may already be present are not further supported by new introductions.
The new legislation, put forward by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), is based on the international Ballast Water Management Convention which was negotiated at the International Maritime Organization.
Katy Ware, director of UK Maritime Services for the MCA, said: “We have some of the most beautiful coastline in the world and we all have a collective responsibility to care for it. By introducing this Convention into UK law, we are protecting our coastline from potentially harmful aquatic species and pathogens such as Chinese Mitten crabs and Zebra mussels, which could be discharged by ships visiting the UK.”
She added: “Although there is a cost for operators to comply with it, the cost to our coastline if they don’t is immeasurable.”